Aftermarket versus OEM shafts – Certain “Premium” Shafts May Not Be What They Appear To Be

Don’t Get Burned – The Premium Golf Shafts You Find Listed in the Hireko Golf Catalog and Website are Indeed the Real McCoy’s

If you are paying premium dollar for premium golf shafts, should you be receiving what you thought you were ordering?  If you say “Yes”, then you better read up on a practice that is happening in the golf industry to make sure you are really getting the product and by the manufacturer you thought you were receiving all along. This article will help explain some of the difference between OEM golf companies and aftermarket golf shafts.

What if…?

XYZ manufacturer spent months (if not years) developing a new shaft using exciting new materials and/or technology.  That golf shaft was eventually sent out on tour to validate its performance.  A few weeks later it was used in the driver of a tour player who happened to hold up the winning crystal trophy.  Word of mouth spreads and a couple weeks later starts showing up in the bags of several tour players.  The golf club shaft becomes easily spotted on TV or threads appear on-line in golf forums such as Golf WRX or MyGolfSpy.  Instantly, demand begins from the public for that golf club shaft.

A short time later, that same shaft becomes available by a number of golf component suppliers (including Hireko Golf) often with a price tag of $149 or north of that.  Finally, Joe Q. Public can buy the exact same shaft as their favorite tour player used or won with or the one they saw in the media that they just had to have.  Are you following me?  This is the order of the universe of how those tour player aftermarket golf shafts enter the marketplace.

What is a "Made for" golf shaft and how does it differ a aftermarket shaft?

A short time passes and all of the sudden you start to see a major manufacturer begin offering their newest golf club with XYZ-brand’s exotic new golf shaft – or is it? Maybe the silkscreen on the OEM golf shaft has marked 60 instead of a 55, meaning the aftermarket vs OEM golf shaft is a lighter version.  Or maybe the color is different, but the markings aren’t exactly like the one that you saw on Hireko’s website, catalog, Golf Digest or on a popular forum page.  You are probably asking yourself, “Hey, what the H E double hockey sticks is going on there?”

Well my friends, that is what we call “Made For” or retail shafts. These are variations off of popular or expensive aftermarket golf shafts.  These may be slightly watered down versions of the Real McCoy in order to hit a certain price point or make them a little more user-friendly for Joe Q. Public who doesn’t swing anything like or as hard as the pros.  One clue if this is the case is to look at the retail price between their stock shafts vs. after-market shafts.

Many OEM drivers will retail for $299 with their house brand shaft.  Let’s say the OEM uses a “premium” golf shaft you see in a component catalog that lists for $199 for just the golf shaft itself.  If the retail price of the club is $399, then you know it is the “Made For” version, whereas at $499, it is the real deal.

Abracadabra, watch me pull a shaft from this hat

There are some people who feel like there is a conspiracy theory and those that produce “Made For” shafts ought to go to the pokey for false advertising.  Others will say, “You know, the average guy probably can’t hit the real deal anyway and the retail version is probably going to be a better fit for them.”  The latter has basically a no harm, no foul approach.

But what if that “Made For” golf club shaft wasn’t even made by the company that originally designed the shaft and went through the arduous task of getting it in the hands of the world’s best players?  What if the name brand club manufacturer went to the shaft maker and said, “Hey, we want this other company to produce a shaft for us, but we would like to slap your name on it because it is good marketing.  We will pay you x-amount per golf shaft and you don’t have to manufacturer the shaft, have it sit in your warehouse until we put in a purchase order, worry about a late invoice or any returns either.  All you have to do is sit back and enjoy those royalty checks because your name is worth something to us and the general public.”

Shocked?  Believe it or not this practice does happen.  I actually applaud those shaft vendors that turn down the offer of “free” money not to tarnish their branding now and far into the future.  Do I have a grudge against any name brand club manufacturer – absolutely not!  Do I have a vendetta against any shaft manufacturer?  Again, my answer is emphatically no. For one, we sell the majority of these company’s products anyway and that pays part of my salary.  But I do feel I have a responsibility to help educate consumers and for them to understand we are not ripping them off when comparing the OEM vs aftermarket shafts.

Don’t get burned

If you want the real deal, well you are going to pay for it one way or another.  The tour grade golf shafts you find listed in Hireko’s catalog and website are indeed the Real McCoy’s – not a watered down or totally unrelated product to appear as the one you thought you were getting in the first place.  There are some name brand club manufacturers who will put the real thing in either as a premium stock offering or as a custom option, but at a premium price as well.  It’s the same story on those shafts you found on eBay for a terrific price as it is really hard to say what they are, where the came from or even who produced them.  Caveat emptor…